As they have found out by now, the Seward County Lady Saints Basketball team has a lot of pressure to win on their home court thanks in large part to the success of their predecessors. Now throw in a team playing with just seven total players, one sophomore, and a 20 year long winning streak against their opponent Saturday night and the pressure mounted even larger on the backs of the Gals in Green on Saturday. After a slow start in which they trailed nearly the entire first half, the Lady Saints would snap out of it and overcome the odds during the final 20 minutes of play as they came back to beat the Pratt Lady Beavers 63-55 to move to 3-1 in conference play on the season.
Trying to win against Seward, something they hadn’t accomplished since 1991, the Pratt Lady Beavers came out strong against the Lady Saints Saturday night in the Greenhouse. They would capitalize on a slow start from Seward and would hold a 14-6 lead 7 minutes into things. The teams would go back and forth but the Lady Saints could never seem to get the big defensive stop they were looking for as they would cut the lead to 4 a number of times just to see the Lady Beavers push it back to 6 on their next trip down the floor. With the spread still at 6, 20-14 with 4 minutes to go in the first half, Seward would turn up the pressure on the defensive end and would turn it into success on the offensive side of the floor as Hanna Bognar would bang one off the window inside to cut it to 4 and Mariah Lee would knock down a pair of free throws to make it a 2 point game, 20-18 with 2:30 remaining on the clock. Pratt’s Cari Guyton would score on the inside to again give the Beavs a 4 point advantage but Lee would be fouled on Seward’s next trip and would make both foul shots to keep the Lady Saints within one possession at 22-20. The Lady Saints would get a stop and Mogan Skomal would find Bognar inside again and for the first time since the opening minute of the game, the two teams were tied up. Skomal would get a steal on the other end and would pass it ahead to Kayla Thomas to give the Lady Saints their first lead of the game with under 30 seconds remaining in the half but Pratt would get a hoop of their own before the horn to knot things up at 24 as the teams hit the locker rooms.
Pratt would get the first bucket of the second half but Seward’s Ashlynn Knoll would quickly score for the home team to keep the game tied. Then it was the Lady Saints Mattie Yanke’s turn to get in on the scoring as the Seward freshman scored off of a pass from Skomal to put them ahead and then knocked down a corner three for the Lady Saints on their next possession after a Pratt basket to give Seward a 31-28 lead with under 18 to go in the game. The Seward defense would cause a pair of turnovers and would score on their extra possessions and would take their largest lead of the contest at 36-30 with 16:37 remaining. The Lady Beavers outside shooting would draw them close again though as Laramie Lawrence hit a three from the top to make it a three point game and then scored again on Pratt’s next trip to make it 36-35. Bognar would get one to fall for Seward to put them up 38-35 but the Beavers Kinsley Hilst would score on two straight Pratt possessions to give the lead back to the visitors at 39-38 with 13:40 to go in the game. Lee would dominate the next three minutes of the game for Seward after that as she would score 8 points in the span and would give the Lady Saints a 6 point, 47-41 lead and would swing the momentum completely to the gals in green as the under 10 media timeout was called. Unfortunately for the Beavs, Lee wasn’t done yet as she scored out of the break for her 10th point in three minutes and that would be followed by another corner three by Yanke to give the Lady Saints a double digit lead of 52-41. Still leading by 11 after a hoop from Kelsey Willson with 4:17 left, it looked as if Seward would be able to coast to the finish line but Pratt had other ideas. The Beavers would go on a 6-0 run to cut the Lady Saints lead to just 5 with 1:31 left and the spread would remain the same with under a minute to go after Seward would go 2 for 4 in a pair of trips to the charity stripe and Guyton scored on the inside for Pratt. Lee would hit both of her free throw chances after she was fouled with 21 seconds remaining to put Seward up 7 and after a missed Beaver three point attempt Thomas would hit one of two from the line to put the Lady Saints up 8 and they would go on to win by that same margin as they continued their dominance over Pratt with a 63-55 win.
Seward would shake off a slow first half start to shoot 54% in the second half and 46% overall while holding the Beavers to just 36% shooting in the game. Leading the way for Seward was Lee who finished with 20 points and 7 rebounds while Yanke and Bognar both chipped in 10 a piece. Thomas would end the night with 8 points and 6 assists while playing all 40 minutes at point guard for the first time for the Lady Saints and Knoll finished with 9 points and 7 rebounds. Skomal had an interesting stat line at nights end as she finished with just 2 points but 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocked shots, and 4 steals for the Lady Saints.
Seward County is now 13-5 overall on the season and 3-1 in the Jayhawk West where they will take on a tough road test Monday in Concordia against the conference leading T-Birds of Cloud County. Their first half bye comes Wednesday which they desperately need to heal injuries of their top two guards, and will then suit up again on Saturday at home against struggling Dodge City.